Built SpecE30 Vs Stock E30 M3


Hi Guys,

I am new to the forum and new to E30s and loving the chassis. I purchased an early model fully gutted 318i with an m20b25 swap, Z3 rack, and 3.73 LSD.and wondering how much capacity is my car compared to an e30 m3.

A friend of mine told me that E30s are terrible and not nearly as capable compared to the e30 M3. I am however curious how a fully built Spec E30 with its M20B25, H&R and Bilstein combo, 15 inch Toyo tires, 3.73 LSD, a z3 steering rack and fully gutted interior would compare in driving dynamics, overall capabilities, and performance against a fully stock E30 m3. I know the M3 is a 4 banger, etc. But for those who have driven both on the track and off track, how would they compare? Would a built 325is keep up with the stock E30 M3? i’m just curious to know how much fun and capable the track prepped e30 325is’ are compared to the legendary M3. I am not asking about comfort, looks, and or value. Obviously, one is gutted other is stock, one can be purchased cheap, the other is a collector’s. I wanted to know if a track prepped e30 can be called the poor man’s M3. Is the E30 m3 more of a novelty and can a regular e30 be just as capable for a lot less money?

I’d appreciate your subjective and objective responses.


Haven driven both, the 325 would run away and hide from the M3.


Hi, thanks for the response. Would you mind clarifying that? When you say the 325 will run away and hide, do you mean it is that much faster and the m3 will not see it anymore? Or do you mean that the M3 is such a great car that the 325 will be scared and go running and hiding?


I ran my E30 M3 for 10 years in time trials before getting a Spec E30 2 years ago. The M3 was more capable and much easier to drive. More tire and more brakes make a big difference.

Which is more fun? They are both fun. The M3 is confidence inspiring and running the motor to redline is a blast! Hosnestly, the bigger difference is being able to drive in a competitive spec class like Spec E30 vs time trailing with a car that was uncompetitive for the class.

More fun is also not having to worry about throwing a rod through the side of the block of an impossible-to-find motor, which I have seen happen to a few M3’s at the track. And I don’t cry when I damage a fender now either.


You are comparing a street car with a track prepared car. 160 whp in both with the 325 weighing a couple of hundred pounds less. The M3 motor will cost upwards of 15K to rebuild and a good 325 for 6K. Short tracks the 325 shines because of torque…the M3 on longer tracks where it can use its upper end HP. Not really a comparison.


Thank you all for the responses.